Everyone who appreciates good storytelling should watch Longmire, now on Netflix. It is a magnificent show, one of my absolute favorites. I was devastated when A&E cancelled it after three seasons, and thrilled when Netflix picked it up. The fourth season is currently available on Netflix, along with the first three, and fans are having an event tomorrow to encourage them to renew it for a fifth. I intend to participate.
I am not sure whom to credit with the great writing on the show. It is based on books by Craig Johnson, which I have not yet read, but intend to, and Johnson is given writing credit along with show creators Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny and a number of other writers on individual episodes. I imagine it is a collaborative effort. However it is done, the result is spectacular.
The actors are, without exception, excellent. Robert Taylor so completely inhabits Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming that I had no idea he was Australian until long after I became addicted to the show. I would have guessed he was from no farther from Wyoming than maybe Montana. He also has the great actor’s ability to make clear what the character thinks and feels with minimal dialogue (Walt is a man of extremely few words) and to make me care deeply about what happens to him. Lou Diamond Phillips is equally believable as Walt’s more socially adept best friend, Henry Standing Bear, and Katee Sackhoff makes full use of the potential of perhaps the most layered, complex and unusual female character on television, Deputy Vic Moretti. I almost hate to single anyone out though, because the whole cast is wonderful.
Although there are funny moments, Longmire is by no means a lighthearted show. It is emotionally intense, but one of the things I love about it is that it has very little of the graphic violence and general grossness that permeate so much of modern entertainment. I seem to be less able than most people to become desensitized to that sort of thing. I admit there have been a few moments in a few episodes when I had to look away, but very few. The intensity comes from the realistic human drama and the powerful performances.
Even if you think you have no interest in the life of a Wyoming sheriff, I urge you to give this show a try. Start from Season 1, Episode 1, because the plot is complex, and there are many layers of subtext. I defy you not to want to see the next episode, and the next, and the next…